[This is a corrected version of an earlier entry.]
A year ago, Fort Lauderdale bail bondsman William "Cobra" Staubs nearly ended his 30-year career by searching for missing 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings.
Cobra was slapped with a felony charge of false imprisonment when he tried to arrest accused child molester Daniel Snodgrass in Putnam County, near where Haleigh disappeared. Snodgrass complained to the local sheriff's office that Cobra was not authorized to revoke his bond.
Cobra's license to be a bail bondsman, which is the legal version of bounty hunting in Florida, was suspended, and his business began to dry up. For a while, it seemed that his career -- a Forrest Gump-like saga that included tracking down a fugitive who was making bombs near military bases and secretly trailing former Palm Beach County Commissioner Tony Masilotti -- might be over.
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But after a year of legal wrangling, Cobra recently struck a deal with prosecutors in the case. He pleaded no contest to a lesser, misdemeanor battery charge for his forceful arrest of Snodgrass.Cobra's now on probation for a year. But he's thrilled to have the chance to get his bail bonds license reinstated and head back to work.
"I'm free, thank God, free at last," he says.
Haleigh Cummings, meanwhile, is still missing after disappearing in February 2009. No suspect has been named or charged in that case.
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this blog said that Cobra pleaded guilty to battery, when he pleaded no contest. We regret the error.